Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Scholastic Press (2.23.2016)
Hardcover, 320 pages
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.
She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.
But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
When I first saw the synopsis of this book, my first thought was: Horses? Mechanical horses?! YES PLEASE. It sounded awesome. I was sure it would be awesome. I was not wrong!
I love Astrid and Magnolia’s relationship! I love seeing girl friendships that are pure and not catty. I feel like it’s so rare in YA anymore. Astrid and Magnolia supported each other and took care of each other. They were always there for one another, no matter what. It was a very positive relationship, and I feel that more female relationships in YA need to be portrayed as such!
The relationships and family dynamics felt very real. There was conflict, but there was also catharsis, making for a wonderful and realistic balance.
I really liked Astrid as a character. She’s stubborn, but determined and full of heart! I love her fierce resilience. I also really loved the underdog quality of this book. Like if you really put your mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t do. I love that!
I freaking LOVE that there was no romance!! It’s so damn rare in YA, it’s refreshing! (You should all know by now that I’m not a fan of romance, especially when it detracts from the plot of a non-romance story.) The main focus was on the platonic and mentor relationships – Astrid/Padlock, Astrid/Magnolia, Astrid/Rags. And they were wonderful! View Spoiler » I loveloveloveLOVE that Hart ended up being Magnolia’s interest. When he was introduced it seemed guaranteed that he was going to be meant for Astrid. I fucking LOVE that it broke the cliche that when you’re introduced to a guy he’s automatically going to be the main love interest. « Hide Spoiler
I loved Rags! It’s kind of a stupid name but I love the dynamic between he and Astrid. He’s a crotchety old man but he’s funny – I loved the grudging moments of affection he shared with Astrid!
Now to talk about my favorite part of the book – Padlock and Astrid. I love that Astrid only saw Padlock as a thing at first, but slowly came to realize he was so much more, and eventually came to love him. CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT PADLOCK. Gahhhh I love him so much! He was amazing! I love that he had his own personality, that he was sentient and not just a mindless machine. (It’s like all the feels from Stealth and Big Hero 6 all over again)
I saw some say that this book was a rip off of The Scorpio Races. I honestly didn’t see the similarities while reading. The family dynamic is similar, and yes you could probably substitute man-eating horses for the mechanical ones and it’d be disturbingly similar, but the mechanical horse race is so unique and awesome that it seemed 100% original when I read it. And the whole against-all-odds-with-crazy-life-threatening-obstacles-competition was just so Victoria Scott that it seemed 100% her. If you haven’t read Fire and Flood this one is very similar (while also being completely different). She has very distinct story-telling!
The only drawback for me was that the pacing was a bit slow at times. There was a point in the middle where I was actually losing interest and it dragged on a bit (which is not good, considering this is only 300 pages). The scenes at the parties and social stuff bored me quite a bit. It started off strong, had a rather large lull, then finished off even stronger. I didn’t start really getting invested until the circuit races began and I started getting more and more attached to Padlock. (Let’s be honest, 75% of my interest in this book is because of Padlock!)
AND THE ENDING. VICTORIA HOW COULD YOU OW MY HEART OW IT HURTS. I fucking bawled! And writing about it is making me tear up all over again!! View Spoiler »HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HER SO SHE COULD WIN I CAN’T EVEN *starts to cry again just thinking about it* And Rags gave her Padlock’s EvoBox WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! (Remember how I compared it to Stealth and Big Hero 6? SHE HAS THE EVOBOX THERE’S STILL HOPE. I HAVE TO BELIEVE IT *wails* « Hide Spoiler
If you haven’t read this book, you definitely need to!
“I’ve found you should say the thing that’s bothering you outright. Takes away its power.”
“Let’s do this, Padlock. Not to win. Not to place. But to remember this moment as the time we ran with the Titans. Because you are a Titan. And tonight, I am a rider.”
“Get your behind into that saddle and race hard, Astrid Sullivan. I already know how strong you are – you just go show everyone else.”
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5